Maryland Legislative Wrap-up

The 2020 legislative session ended three weeks early on March 18, due to COVID 19. Due to the shortened session, legislators focused on priority legislation, and many bills did not receive a vote.

MCF has delayed publishing a legislative summary as we were waiting to see if Governor Hogan would veto a key piece of legislation related to the provision of behavioral health services to children and adolescents in schools–the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, also known as the Kirwan Commission Bill (HB 1300/SB 1000). Due to the impact of COVID 19 on the economy, the bill was indeed vetoed.

Here is a summary of the bills that MCF supported in the 2020 session and their outcomes:


HB 374/SB 453 – Behavioral Health Administration – Children with Mental Disorders – List of Available Services

HB 374/SB 453 required the Behavioral Health Administration to maintain an updated list of the services available to children in the state who have mental health needs – both for those with Medicaid and those with private insurance. An amendment required that the list also contain services available to children with a substance use problem, and that the list be maintained in a searchable on-line database.

Failed. The bill passed the Senate but did not receive a vote in the House.


HB 455/SB 334 – Health Insurance – Coverage for Mental Health Benefits and Substance Use Disorder Benefits – Treatment Criteria

HB 455/SB 334 required insurance carriers to make annual reports to the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to show that they are in compliance with federal parity laws. The bill was heavily amended and weakened.

Passed. The bill passed both the House and the Senate.


HB 464/SB 990 – Public Health – Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Services Program

HB 464/SB 990 authorized the establishment of a program to provide a place for the consumption of pre-obtained drugs, provide sterile needles, administer first aid, and provide access and referral to services.

Failed. The bill did not receive a vote in either the House or the Senate.


HB 738/SB 849 – Criminal Procedure – Medical Emergency – Immunity

HB 738/SB 849 expanded the Good Samaritan Law to include legal protections for individuals in a medical emergency after consuming drugs or alcohol. Individuals would be immune from criminal arrest or prosecution for a drug or alcohol-related misdemeanor if the evidence was obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance.

Failed. The bill did not receive a vote in either the House or the Senate.


HB 1140/SB 624 – Health – Mobile Response and Stabilization System for Children and Families in Maryland – Study

HB 1140/SB 624 required that the Department of Health and the Governor’s Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health work to develop and implement a comprehensive mobile response and stabilization system (expanded crisis services) designed specifically for children and families in Maryland.

Failed. The bill passed the Senate but did not receive a vote in the House.


HB 1165/SB 484 – Health Insurance – Provider Panels – Coverage for Nonparticipating Providers

HB 1165/SB 624 required insurance carriers to inform members of their right to request a referral to an out-of-network provider when necessary services are not available within a reasonable time or distance, and ensured that if an individual needs to go out-of-network, they do not pay more for those services than they would to an in-network provider.

Failed. The bill did not receive a vote in either the House or the Senate.


HB 1300/SB 1000 – Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – Implementation (also known as the Kirwan Commission bill)

HB 1300/SB 1000 intended to transform Maryland’s education system to the levels of high-performing systems around the world. It carried a very large fiscal note for implementation over ten years. Regarding behavioral health, the bill requires behavioral health screening, teacher training, referral to services, and the provision of school-based behavioral health services. The amendments required that the behavioral health recommendations be fully funded, and that a data outcomes system be developed and implemented for community-partnered school-based behavioral health services.

Passed by both the House and Senate but vetoed by the Governor.


Budget Bill

Behavioral Health Advocates lobbied for restoration of the proposed $25 million cut to the provider rate increase that had been promised in the Minimum Wage bill of 2019 and the HOPE Act of 2017.

The funding was restored.